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Are your Engagement metrics working, or are they just an exercise in box ticking?

September 2021 4 min read

Increasing engagement has long been a top goal for membership organisations. In fact, through four years of analysis by MemberWise*, it has remained the primary aim, but how exactly do you go about ensuring you can measure it on your website?

While many organisations have a balanced scorecard covering all facets of business KPIs, are meaningful engagement metrics accurately recorded outside of just website visits?

To understand a metric effectively, an organisation needs data, a platform to analyse it, and most importantly staff to interpret it and deliver actionable insights. This can present significant challenges for many organisations.

In our experience, all our clients are at least using Google Analytics to track website data, but the level of engagement metrics being collected and utilised varies.

Person on a laptop

So, how do you get started in creating meaningful engagement KPIs?

To successfully track engagement, you need to consider what your goals are and how effectively content or activities are contributing to them. These goals should also tie back to your organisation’s overall strategic aims.

Goals will differ between organisations, but for the majority, they will likely involve you wanting to achieve one or more of the following:

  • Sales
  • Event bookings
  • Downloads
  • New memberships
  • Membership renewals
  • Encouraging and logging CPD
  • Responding to questions
  • Consultation bookings
  • Newsletter sign-ups

Once you have these goals set up in Google Analytics as ‘Conversions’, you will start to have a flavour of how they are performing. But, in order to improve your data, consider how different marketing activities are contributing to each of these Conversions.

Understanding what your marketing or comms teams do to drive visitors through campaigns is key, and understanding how to track these is not as complicated as it sounds. All website traffic is attributed to a Traffic Source, and this is customisable. Most email marketing platforms have the ability to link campaigns to Google Analytics through the use of UTM tracking (a snippet of simple code that can be added to the end of a URL to track campaign performance).

Laptop showing traffic on Google Analytics

But what if you still use print? Well, you can set your own traffic source to see how those channels work in driving traffic. All you need is a unique URL, QR code, or barcode added to the print item and behind a UTM tracking code. You will also need to define a structure for the type of print, e.g., ‘Letter’, ‘Poster, ‘Publication’, and a name, e.g., ‘Renewal letter v1 June 22’, ‘May Health campaign’, ‘Journal Nov 21’.

Outside of goals, you also need to consider the context behind user activity. Don’t think about visits in isolation. How long do people actually spend on the page? If the page has a five-minute video, and visitors are spending less than 30 seconds there, then the content is evidently not engaging enough.

User experience (UX) is also key, so considering navigation and search functionality is crucial. Within Google Analytics you can easily set up your site search to collect terms used. This is extremely helpful as it lets you see which search terms users are typing on your site.

Alongside this, there is a search depth field that shows how many subsequent searches were performed during the visit, so if someone has a massive search depth, they are clearly either having problems, and trying lots of different search terms to try and find the one thing they are looking for, or they are loving your content so much that they are looking for multiple articles and pages (another reminder of the importance of context in your data and intelligence)!

Many organisations also build customer personas, and if you have set up Insight reporting you will be able to assess visitors based on other data Google has collected about them (usually called ‘metadata’). This can help validate the personas you may have created, and in conjunction with other tools, help spot improvements that could help your UX. Why not consider short surveys to check if people are achieving the tasks they wanted to on their visit?

Other things to consider around UX are page speed – does your site feel like it’s taking ages to load content? If it does, then you may need to consider some template changes or simply double-check the size of any images and the artwork you are using on the page to balance the number of pixels and the load time against device usage.

These metrics can then be used to inform how content (across all channels) and customer experience enhancements can be made to a site.

Women laughing and talking in the office

Google Analytics
is just one source, and all organisations will have data silos in other systems, so our advice would be to start with what you have and build from there, using a dashboarding tool to merge different data sets. For example, a page that shows the goals achieved by social traffic could also show the number of followers and interaction rates from each social channel.

Setting up reports is one thing, ensuring you have the right people to manage data is another. Different people in an organisation will have different data skills, so a great first step is to identify what skills you have internally and introduce a data group to assess what data you already have, where it lives and how to amalgamate it. You can then look at training and CPD to address any gaps in your team’s knowledge around data and insight.

People using laptops and writing down data

If you’d like to find out more about how Cantarus could help you review your digital and user experience needs, please visit our Contact Us Form or get in touch at [email protected].


Written by Nick David Principal Consultant

The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author unless explicitly stated. Unless of course, the article made you laugh, in which case, all credit should be directed towards our marketing department.